Sunday, January 16, 2011

Haiti a Year On

A year after the earthquake, Haitians are still in desperate straits: almost no rebuilding, a dreadful cholera epidemic that was not prepared for or anticipated in advance, a non-functional central government, a million residents still under tents and tarps, and more than 10,000 NGOs delivering "aid" -- but every one of them protecting their turf and their funding first and foremost.

What's happened in Haiti since the earthquake is a tragedy for the Haitians, and a shame for the world community that pledged so much assistance to rebuild.

What's happened is a descent into Modern Medievalism.

There is no central government in Haiti except in the abstract, much as was the case in Europe during the Dark Ages; one doesn't even know who the president might be, and it hardly matters given the fact that the "government" -- such as it is -- is essentially non-functional having suffered so many losses during the earthquake.

Consequently, a proliferation of NGOs are filling a vacuum of authority and power, but only partially, and only to the extent they are protecting their turf and their funding. They are doing as little as possible for and with the Haitian people, while they primarily look after their own interests and affairs in competition with all the other NGOs.

There is no coordination of effort, no common interest, no more than minimal "service" to the Haitian People. It is private interest every step of the way, and that is a huge reason why there is no progress at all. "Oh, but it could be so much worse without us!" cry the NGOs. Maybe, maybe not. But the Haitians are rightly fed up with the state of affairs they are subject to, and given some of the violent incidents in response to the cholera epidemic especially, they are on the verge of general insurrection.

This is pretty much what everyone's future will look like when government is reduced to an abstraction and competing private interests are left to their own devices. Each NGO becomes a kind of independent fief, struggling with all the others, using the People as pawns, providing them little or nothing, but always claiming that their efforts have kept things from getting worse.

Haiti should be a disturbing lesson for all of us, but strangely, the most obvious lessons are lost on most Americans.


lea-p adds links to a Film@11tv documentary "Where did the money go?" to help round out the picture. Four of five episodes are on line now, the fifth and final episode should be posted soon.


Episode One:

Episode Two:

Episode Three:

Episode Four:


  1. Che, have you seen this series, "Haiti: Where did the Money Go?"? Apparently it is a five part series. So far there are three episodes up on youtube, starting with this one:



    It is sure to piss you off. Pissed me off. This world is so fucking dysfunctional.

  2. Infuriating. Even these episodes don't get into how bad things really are, but if people see them, they'll begin to understand why Haitians are still suffering so much.

    This is a situation that actually calls for benign tyranny. Unfortunately, it's all about keeping the NGOs fat and happy, not about getting Haiti and Haitians out of this mess.


    I've put links to all the episodes I could find in the post. Thanks for passing them on to me.

  3. Ah, I hadn't noticed part 4 this morning. Yeah, it is all about the damned NGOs. That's really what this series is about, but without going into much depth. <37,000-and-counting NGOs world-wide...amazing. Hey, it's business! The horrid conditions of the poor people who actually live in Haiti is not probed much here, but it does give one a flavor of the place. Too bad the documentary isn't in Smellovision™®©. The contrasts of the "camps" with sparkly SUVs and clean well-fed white people is depressing. I never gave a dime to that catastrophe, figuring I'd wait a few months to when the main flood of monies was drying up. But by then, it seemed like a waste of money to send anything. And I couldn't figure out which group was actually doing something. Guess my instincts were right, unfortunately for the people in Haiti. But I still had Katrina in my mind-bank. Another unending cluster fuck with suffering people.

  4. Katrina is the type model "exercise" -- as Darth Cheney called it -- for doing nothing, or rather absolutely as little as possible, at the absolute highest possible costs.

    It's spreading, what with the snow removal failure in the Northeast -- not just NYC -- and all sorts of other examples.

    The New Normal.

    As for sending money, it is almost impossible to know who to send it to to actually do any good for the Haitians. The best I've been able to figure it out -- as I am too ignorant to be sure -- is to go directly through Haitian and Haitian American agencies.

    This interview with several Haitian Americans makes eminent sense.

    Then of course Baby Doc is back, no doubt to get his cut of the loot. Where is Aristide? Still in exile in S. Africa, barred from returning.

    Things are liable to get much worse.